What is activated charcoal (powder)?
Activated charcoal is commonly used to treat minor intestinal conditions, particular ailments and skin care. Activated charcoal is a black powder - without odour or flavour - and has been used for hundreds of years. In some medical settings, it is still used to treat drug overdoses or anti-poison remedies in emergency situations.
Some claim it will help whiten teeth, reduce flatulence and lower cholesterol levels - however more research is needed.
How is activated charcoal made?
Activated charcoal can be made from the waste products of coconut husks, wood, bamboo or coal. They are burned at an extremely high temperature which activates the charcoal - hence the name. Then the carbon-rich materials are mixed with calcium chloride.
Standard charcoal is when coal, peat, wood pulp, coconut shells or petroleum are added together and heated.
What does activated charcoal do and what is it used for?
You should never self-administer activated charcoal for any medical or emergency situation, for an overdose or for poison control. You should always speak to a health professional beforehand.
Research for modern-day activated charcoal use in medicinal cases is only a few decades old, and more studies are needed.
It has been used as an emergency poison treatment since the early 1800s, as it binds to a variety of drugs. It’s also believed to be used to treat overdoses of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, such as sedatives or aspirin. Studies revealed ingesting 50-100 grams of activated charcoal five minutes after taking a drug may reduce the absorption rate by up to 70%.
It’s also reported to be most effective when taken within the first hour of poisoning or overdose, but other studies have claimed it’s not helpful after 60 minutes. Also, it does not react to all poisoning cases, like alcohol, iron, lithium, heavy metal, acid or potassium.
In terms of skincare, it’s believed to help treat acne and dandruff to reduce the amount of sebum, dirt and oil on the surface of the skin. Activated charcoal is common in soaps, scrubs and facial cleansers as an aid.
How does activated charcoal work
Try our Activated Charcoal soap bar infused with tea tree essential oil for yourself.
When charcoal is activated with gas at high temperatures, microscopic holes appear and increase the powder’s surface area. It isn’t absorbed by the body, so when someone ingests it, it reaches the gut unchanged.
The microscopic holes make it incredibly porous, with a negative electrical charge, and it attracts positively charged molecules - like gases and toxins. So when liquids or gas pass through the substance, they bind to the powder, get trapped, and are passed through as part of the normal digestive system instead of being absorbed by the body.
How to use activated charcoal
To use activated charcoal as a skin treatment, you can add a small amount into your face wash or daily scrub to help cleanse your complexion.
The fine powder is lightweight, so be prepared to add the mixture gently, or it can spread easily and make a mess quickly.
A teaspoon of activated charcoal to one cup of skincare product is enough to work its magic, most items on the market tend to be within the 1 to 5 % range.
What does activated charcoal do for the face?
Studies show it helps to pull out toxins and other impurities from the skin's surface. It’s commonly used in soap cleansers and face masks to leave your complexion nice and clean, clear, and pores appear smaller.
Each skin type is different, therefore, you should try it out for yourself first to work out if it’ll benefit your own routine.
For dry and sensitive skin, reduce usage to once a week as it’s a stripping agent, whereas oily and combination skin types can use it more regularly or daily to help remove dirt and oil.
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